From a slouching, unkempt, uncouth, shambling, horrid boy, he emerged into being a respectable, neat, tidy, order-loving, painstaking, and industrious young man.
– Miss Winthrop, 1888
I had an ugly, unruly boy in my room, and be gave me more trouble than all the rest of the class. When I inherited him I felt as if Nemesis had overtaken me, and just how to control him and secure any kind of work from him was a problem I long wrestled with.
For several weeks he was the terror of the room, and my reputation for good order and dignity was, I felt, fast disappearing. The boy would not obey unless he felt like it, and punishments had no effect on him. Every plan I evolved for the regeneration of the boy proved abortive. He wouldn’t reform. Finally, by accident, I stumbled on the cure.
I discovered that he was interested in his drawing, or rather was interested in sketching odd bits of scenery, or objects in the room, not even omitting his respected teacher, who was a typical schoolmarm and wore glasses. I resolved to make the most of this one talent – if talent it was – and so one day, when I was in my best and sweetest mood, I asked the terror if he would not draw a plan for some shelves I wanted put up in my closet. He assented, and the sketch was neatly and accurately made. There was a new look in his eyes and a new expression on his face when he gave me the paper on which his drawings were made.
Then I advanced slowly and cautiously. I needed some maps made, following a new invention of mine in cartography, and again I employed the terror, and again the result was encouraging. The maps were models of neatness and precision. I judiciously praised him, and exhibited the maps to the class.
We were studying the continent of Asia, and the terror never had his geography lesson learned; but when I suggested that if he were to keep up his reputation in drawing he must draw the details of the county he was sketching, geography became a new study to him, and he easily wade excellent progress in this branch.
The terror came out of his chrysalis state a new creature. His old ways were left, and he readily adopted the better method of doing and living. From a slouching, unkempt, uncouth, shambling, horrid boy, he emerged into being a respectable, neat, tidy, order-loving, painstaking, and industrious young man.
- Miss Winthrop, “A Crooked Stick Straightened,” American Teacher, 1888 (reprinted in Scientific American, November 26, 1887, Vol. LVII., No. 22., pg. 346)
- Sighting Along the Ruler: The Youth’s Companion, August 8, 1918
- Map of Two Brooks Farm: The Youth’s Companion, Aug 12, 1915
- Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Asia: Lenore Congdon Schutze, Schutze’s Amusing Geography and System of Map Drawing (San Francisco, 1900)